Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Family of Five!

First off, I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to update the blog. I had every intention of doing so when we first got back, but Grace decided that she wanted to wake up between 4 and 5 every morning, and by the time she was in bed at night, so was I! (She has since been moved to Todd and my bedroom, which has air conditioning and she seems to be sleeping until around 7 am now...much much better!)

We left Kunming on Monday morning on at 10:30 flight to Guangzhou. Here is Grace in the airport:

Grace did really well on the airplane, except for five minutes of crying herself to sleep. She was so excited when we put her in her own seat (it was great, the flight was crowded, but the flight attendant asked the guy sitting in our row to move to another aisle seat so that we could have the extra room for Gracie. You don't get that type of customer service on American-based airlines, that's for sure! Here is Gracie in her seat:

We arrived in Guangzhou at 12:15 pm and had a driver waiting for us to take us for the 2 hour drive into Zhuhai. Grace fell asleep for almost the whole trip, and Mommy and Daddy decided that wasn't a bad idea and joined her!

When we pulled up to the house, Noah and Jillian were just getting out of the van back from school. They walked into the house because they didn't see us pull up behind them, but the door was still open when we got out so they heard us and came running out to meet their little sister.

It was love at first site! Noah and Jillian were just so excited to finally see Grace that they were just hugging and kissing on her. Grace was very funny to watch because she had this look of "What the heck is going on here" for most of the time. She was just watching them so intently trying to figure it all out. I wish I knew what was going through her mind. I think she was actually quite confused and was very mellow during this initial meeting. Here's the pictures with Ge Ge (pronounced ger ger - with a hard "g") which means big brother, and with Ji Ji (not sure of the spelling on that one, but it is pronounced jeh jeh) and means big sister:

Here is the first photo of the new Tierney Family of Five!

Once Noah and Jillian got to get a hold of Grace, it was Mimi and Pa's turn. I was really amazed by how well Grace was doing with all these new people. She wasn't exactly jumping for joy, but she wasn't fussy and crying either!

This was the first laugh we got from Grace since she met the rest of the family. Of course, she was sitting on "goofy" Pa's lap!

While in Kunming, we had found these really cute hats that we bought for Grace and for Jillian. When we gave one to Jillian she wanted Grace to wear her's too, and they both looked just so cute with them on:

I will try and update again tomorrow or the next day. We have had a great first week together with Grace. Every day she seems to be more and more comfortable with us and we are really starting to see her real personality. She is just a little bundle of joy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Day Two with Grace!

Today was another very emotional day for us. We went to Kunming Children's Welfare Institute (the orphanage where Grace lived for 6 months). Here is what it looks like from the outside:

This visit was surprising great because we were told by so many people that the Kunming Orphanage is very tight lipped and won't give you any information and aren't very open to the adoptive families. We could not disagree more! We walked in and the Assistant Director sat us down, gave us tea and treats and then gave us a book all about the orphanage w/tons of photos in it (of course, its in Chinese, but the photos speak for themselves). We had mentioned to Jack (our Guide) that we were curious about the schedules of the girls and sure enough, the A.D. had them printed out in English the exact time of when Grace sleeps and when and what she eats during the day. Then since Sojo had a bad cough, and Grace had spots all over her that we were afraid were scabies, we mentioned this to the Asst. Director and she immediately fetched a doctor for us. Luckily, Grace only has "Kunming Red Spots" which apparently 80% of the babies in Kunming will get these spots over them when in the sun but it will go away after about 2 weeks. Very strange, but so so happy that we aren't dealing with Scabies. Here's Grace with the Doctor:

And with the Assistant Director:

We were allowed to tour the whole facility but we were not allowed to take any photos inside the orphanage itself. We were so amazed at how clean the whole place was. It was sparkling! We saw where Gracie slept and then the most incredible part of the tour was when we went into the infants play room. In this room, along with about 12 or so 4 month old babies, were the caretakers of Grace and Sojo (Sojo is the other baby who was just adopted by a couple in Shanghai who we have shared this whole process with). There were, I think, 6 young ladies who all of the sudden just burst out in excitement when we walked through the door. They remembered both Grace and Sojo and they took them right from us and were hugging and talking to them. I was introduced to the woman who used to carry Tianling (Grace) on her back every day. They said that they always referred to her as Tianling's mama. She took Grace and was holding her and I was crying big time. This is the woman who was a major part of caring for our daughter. We begged them to let us take a photo of her holding Grace, but it just isn't allowed. And to make it worse, THEY started taking photos of Grace and Sojo, but we still couldn't. Oh well, I remember clearly this woman and the look she had when she was holding Grace and I will pass that on to Grace the best that I can.

Here we are in front of the orphanage:

Also, while we were at the orphanage, a BIG WHIG was visiting and he came in to meet us. His name is Yin Jun and he is the Chairman of Yunnan Provincial Congress. He was very proud to be a great friend of President Bush (he told us this many times!). He was also kind enough to take a photo with us. The woman on the right in lab coat is the Director of the Orphanage. She was very kind, and told us that she helps us (by caring for our daughter for her first 7 months) and we help her (by taking care of Grace forever!). The other couple in the photo are Dale and Tara with Sojo.

This was an amazing start to the day. After the tour we went back to the hotel for lunch and a nap for Grace. We then went to her Finding Spot. She was found at Kunming Children's Hospital:

It was so interesting to look at the place where the faceless woman who gave birth to a newborn baby girl, but who was in such despair, had to give her up. I think she must have loved her very much to make sure that she left her at the Children's Hospital, knowing that she would be found quickly and immediately cared for. This woman, who gave Grace her life, and in so doing, gave us our third child, could have done what countless other woman in China do and abandoned her somewhere other than a hospital, or worse yet, taken the baby's life away from her. I thank God for guiding this poor woman to do what she thought was best for the baby that for whatever reason, she could not keep.

So that basically was our day...pretty emotional, wouldn't you say! Tomorrow we leave Kunming and return home to Zhuhai where two very very excited little siblings are waiting to meet their new baby sister, and two equally excited Grandparents are waiting to meet their newest grandchild. I will update more then. I apologize for the legnth of this blog, but there was just so much to share, and I am sure I missed something but will be sure to write it in later.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Grace is ours!

I am writing this now in a very stinky hotel room. Grace has decided to do her first poopie diaper for us and it is a STINKER!!!

We arrived at the Adoption Center this morning at 9 am. After quickly reviewing the accuracy of some of our paperwork, all of a sudden in comes a careworker with Grace! We had no preparation, they didn't tell us they were coming in the room, we turned around and there she was! She is absolutely gorgeous. And she has an incredible personality. We've had her now for 5.5 hours and all we've heard was a wimper when she was tired. She has fallen asleep in both Todd and my arms. She took her bottle from Mommy with absolutely no problems.

We have also discovered that she is very very ticklish. We just have to squeeze her a little and she just starts giggling! Oh my, I can not put into words my feelings right now. It is like we have had her from the day she is born. She looks into our eyes and smiles and is just too cute for words. I'm hoping this shows that she will not have issues with bonding and attachment, but I think it is a little too early to tell yet.

I hope you enjoy these early photos we have of Gracie. I will update more soon!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

We are in Kunming...only one more day!

We are now at the hotel in Kunming and I just wanted to give you a quick update. We are staying at the Harbour Plaza. When checking in our guide explained that they have the baby bed in the room for us. I started tearing up. It just really really hit me right then that we will have Gracie tomorrow. When I walked into the room and saw the crib, I started again! Who knows how blubbery (don't know if that's a word) I will be tomorrow when she is actually handed to us. I don't think I will even be able to see through my tears!

Ok, so leass than 24 hours until we meet Grace for the first time. We will be at the adoption center (I guess we aren't able to go to the orphanage) at 9 am where Grace will be waiting.

I will fill you in more tomorrow. I can't wait to hold her!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Almost In Our Arms!

Ok, we have the official day in which we will hold Grace in our arms. Todd and I will travel to Kunming this Sunday, while Mimi and Pa remain at home with Noah and Jillian. We will hold Grace for the first time on Monday and should be back home on Wednesday so she can meet her siblings and grandparents.

Barring no more delays (we were supposed to be picking Grace up today, but they found out that she is with a foster family so they couldn't get her back to the orphanage in time), our family will finally be complete on Monday! I just cannot wait. We have our travel authorization letter, that we received just today by EMS and I wish we could go right this minute! This whole process has certainly been a lesson in patience for me, especially since I don't usually have much to begin with.

So, once we get back, I will share all our photos with you all. We are trying to get July 15th as the date for Grace's baptism (as long as she can handle the crowd) so if you have that date free, we'd love to have you join us in celebrating! I will give more information once we have it set.

So, for now, I'm off. Next time you will hear more about Baby Grace and our new family!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A week of firsts!

We are excited over here because both Noah and Jillian had "firsts" this week.

First, Noah finally learned how to blow a bubble with bubble gum! He learned this while waiting for the flight from Chengdu so I thought I'd share it with you all. He also completed his first Sudoku puzzle. I was so impressed with that. He did one of the easy ones in my books all by himself. I was really surprised because I thought it was a bit too old for him, but he figured it out. He also started reading Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix. He's doing really well with it, he's on Chapter 5 now.

Now to Jillian. Last night she lost her first tooth! It happened really fast. On Monday Night she came running down the stairs yelling "I got a loose tooth, I got a loose tooth" and she showed it to me. Sure enough one of her bottom teeth was a-wiggling. I think she must have played with it from then on straight because when she got home from school yesterday (Tuesday) the thing was practically hanging off.

Todd is in Vietnam right now so I called him to ask him if I should try and pull it out. I am so squeamish when it comes to all things dental, but Todd suggested I get a napkin and give a tug and see what happens. While still on the phone with him, I got a napkin, put it in Jillian's mouth and I didn't even have to tug...the tooth just came right off into the napkin.

So Jillian was so excited! We got the "tooth" pouch and she put it in there. Since Daddy is away, the kids sleep in my room with me, one on a mattress on the floor, one in bed with me (they take up too much space and kick entirely too much for both to sleep on the bed) We took pictures of Jillian putting the tooth under her pillow.

Apparently when the tooth fairy came, she could not find the tooth in the pouch. She knows it was in there earlier but for the life of her could not find it. Now, I had gone on a Girls Night Out and Lian had put the kids to bed so I didn't know what happened to the darn thing, it was in there when I left. So alas, the Tooth Fairy gave up looking, gave Jillian a Certificate for loosing her first tooth and a little note telling Jillian that she couldn't find the tooth but she needs to give it to Mommy if it is ever found.

Well, apparently Jillian knew the tooth was not in the pouch, apparently it had gone missing "mysteriously" after I left for dinner. She woke up with hysterical tears that didn't slow until she realized that the Tooth Fairy still came. She was worried that because she "lost" the tooth, she wouldn't come.

So, that's all the news for now.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pandas and Sad News

Well, I was ready to post a great blog about our trip to Chengdu to see the Pandas when we woke up Tuesday Morning with the news of the terrible tragedy at Todd's alma mater, VA Tech. Todd has been reading the news religiously on-line since we don't get much more than snippets on tv over here. It is just terrible. VA Tech is a beautiful school and we can't believe something so cruel and senseless has happened there. How could this boy do such a thing? This is a question that will never be answered. We will never understand what moves someone to do such a horrific act. I pray for all the families of the students and staff that were killed and injuried and also for all those students and staff who made it through without a scratch physically but are probably deeply hurt emotionally.

Ok, now on to something a bit happier...PANDAS! We went to Chengdu for the weekend and went to a Giant Panda Breeding and Research facility. We saw many Pandas enjoying their bamboo stalks and relaxing on the grounds. We made a donation to the facility so we were all able to pet a Giant Panda and take a photo with it. They look like such gentle creatures. It is very easy to forget that they are a BEAR and are not at all gentle. When we went to pet them, there were several trainers/handlers who surrounded the bear and we had to go around to the back of the panda so that he could not really see us. And he had to have a bamboo shoot at all times so that he was focusing on eating and not on us petting him. It was an incredible experience.

Next we were able to hold a Red Panda. Red pandas are not related to the Giant Panda, they are actually in the racoon family. They are very very cute. In fact, they were Noah's favorite at the park. Noah and Jillian both held Hao Hao (which means Good Good) and I was able to hold Xiao Xiao (which means small small) and Todd took video. They were so cute. They are small sized just like racoons. They were eating apples the whole time we held them, also to keep their attention away from us humans holding them.

Saturday Evening we went to a Sichuan Opera (Chengdu is in the Sichuan Province). It was a very interesting show. They had performances of comedy, fire breathing, puppets, singing, musical instruments, shadow puppets and changing faces. The changing faces was the neatest thing. All these performers came out wearing masks and if they moved their heads quickly or covered there faces for a fraction of a second the mask changed. It was really amazing and we couldn't for the life of us figure out how they did this.

On Sunday we went to the Leshan Giant Buddha. This is China's version of Mount Rushmore, lol. It is a huge Buddha carved into the side of a mountain. It was really neat to see and we had a great hike up to see it. The only problem there was the kids became part of the tourist attraction. We had a bunch of people asking us to take photos with them, which has happened much in Zhuhai lately so we had forgotten about this. The kids were great for the first 50 people, but then Noah got really sick of people coming up to him and he got really grumpy. Before his mood changed though, I got a great picture of the kids with a group of people who wanted their pictures with our blond hair/blue eyed cuties. I will try and post this picture. (I apologize for the layout of these photos, but I can't figure out how to make it look nice...sorry!)

Once we were done at the Giant Buddha, we headed back to Chengdu and right to Starbucks. Whenever we are in Starbucks it is as though we are no longer in China. It is sometimes a great escape for us. Once done there, we were on the plane and returned home to Zhuhai.

We leave next Saturday for Thailand for the May Holiday. I will try to post before then, but if not, I will definitely post when we get back from there. Our time here in China is coming to an end, and we are trying to get as much in as we can! 'Til next time!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Sleep anyone?

For the last few days I have been having a really hard time sleeping at night. It all started a few days back when I had a really strange dream. I dreamt that we got our referral envelope. In the dream, I felt all the emotions as if it was real. The excitement to open this envelope and see our new daughter. As I opened it, with Todd alongside me, I looked at the picture of the "baby" that was matched to us. I kept looking at the picture and was very confused because it was not a picture of a baby, but of a young woman. When I looked at the birthdate of our potential daughter it was October 18, 1983!!! We had been referred a 24 year old! I still remember the disappointment set in when I realized that of course we would have to reject this referral which meant we would have to wait yet again for another referral, this one for a baby.

Now I know that this cannot really happen. Heck, they don't allow anyone over 16 years of age to be adopted in China, but I still felt the kick in the stomach when I realized that we would have to wait some more.

Ever since that dream, I have been laying in bed at night with all possible scenarios and problems that could arise and paperwork that we need to do, and such. It really stinks!

Got an update yesterday and it appears that all the April Dossiers have been sent referrals so now they are actively matching us to our daughter. But they still don't know how long it will be until we get the actual referral. We are still praying that we have her in time for our flight that is booked for June 27th. If you could also keep us in your prayers, I would really appreciate it.

Ok, well that's it for now. Bye!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My first tears shed!

Ok, so today we had to tell Lian (our maid) that we are leaving. We had to do this because we told the landlord and he will be coming by to check things out and we wanted her to hear it from us, not someone else.

So, Daniela came over to translate for us and as she was telling her I was watching Lian and seeing how upset she was getting with the news. I started to tear up and she started to tear up then she came over and gave me a hug and we both started bawling. Then Daniela started crying and we were all blubbering idiots! Lian told us that she was very sad that we were leaving and she felt really bad.

Later Daniela told me that Lian talked to her maid and told her that she was so upset that she didn't think she could sleep tonight. I was so upset. These are the first tears shed, I'm sure of many, related to our departure in June.

Luckily a friend of ours who just had a baby wants to hire Lian (she got to us first, since then I have had others inquire, but Jen got first dibs!) so when Daniela told her that Jen wanted to hire her, she was at least happy to hear that she will be the IE (Chinese for maid/babysitter/savior!) for a new baby. I am very happy that I know Lian will be taken care of after we leave.

I know that leaving her will be a very hard thing for us to do. The kids are so attached and she loves the kids. But as I spoke to Jen tonight, she pointed out to me that since she will be with Lian we can still communitcate with her via calls and emails. (I think since my Chinese is so limited, we will have to send pictures...no calls!) I am glad to know that Lian will not be lost to us.

I keep remembering Tracy (my close friend who left unexpectantly to go back to Australia, mind you while I was away for the summer, leaving me to come back to China without her!!!) telling me her story of the day they left and Asha (their IE) crying, standing in the street not moving until the taxi went out of her sight. I think that we will have a very similar experience leaving Lian and I am not looking forward to it at all!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

No Water...so decided to update blog.

I just got back from tennis and the gym, all stinky and sweaty, to find out that we have no water so I cannot take a shower! I am due to leave here in an hour to meet friends for lunch so I'm praying that it will be turned on before then or else my friends are in for a big surprise! I sent Lian to find out when the water will be turned back on and managements answer was "Deng Ei Xa" (pronounced deng E shah, no idea if I spelled it right in Chinese though) which means wait a moment. Now being here for almost two years, I have found that a moment can mean 5 minutes or 5 hours! There is no way to get an honest answer when they tell you to wait a moment. So I'm hoping that in this case, it is a shorter moment than most.

Todd bought a road bike a few weeks back. He has started riding with a few of his friends. Saturday he went out and was on one of the busiest streets in Zhuhai when he started to fall over. Since he's fairly new with the road bike, he was unable to get his foot out of the pedal clips so he landed really hard on his hand. It was swollen and really hurt him so on Monday we went to Macau to get x-rays done. Fortunately, it seems to be a sprain, they don't see anything broken (although we know from my trampolene incident that fractures aren't always easy to see!). When we went to pay the bill it was 22 US Dollars!!! The xray cost a total of 9 US Dollars! I was shocked. How come it is so expensive in the US when we can get an xray done here for $9??? Anyway, something to wonder about!

Still no new news about the adoption. We went ahead and booked our May Holiday to Pattaya Beach in Thailand since we don't want to be here when the Holiday comes with no baby and no place to go. We figured if we do end up getting a match before then the only thing that we lose is the airfare (which is dirt cheap since most of it is from miles). We booked into the Hard Rock Hotel which looks really really cool. We got the composer suite since all other rooms we would have to have 2 since we have more than one child. That is a really annoying thing about traveling over here. We always have to have 2 room suites (ie expensive rooms) because supposedly you can't fit a family of four in regular rooms, only a family of 3. Nevermind that Noah and Jillian are perfectly fine sleeping in the same bed, even if it is a twin, but the hotels want their money so they force us into suites. Oh well, at least they are really nice.

Ok, I'm going to try and take a shower now. May need to run down to the hotel at the end of the street and take one at the gym there just so I don't offend all my friends.

Oh, and it looks like we may be returning to the States on June 26th. That is our tentative date anyway. It depends on flights and the baby. They seem to think we should have her by then, but you never know, do you?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Here we are with Ronnie the Amazing Parrot. I've finally figured out how to put pictures on here, so hopefully I will keep adding.

There isn't much more to say about the trip, we went on three tours and the rest of the time we stayed at the hotel. I was disappointed with their gym facility. I am training for a 10K race and needed to keep up my program and we got there and the gym was really nice, except it had NO TREADMILL! So Todd and I had the kids go to the Kids Club a few times while we took out bikes for a good workout.

Oh, one thing that we saw that I wish we didn't was a monkey that was carrying her baby get hit by a car RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!!! It was horrible. We were getting ready to go into a restaurant and I called the kids over to see this monkey and baby that was right next to us. As soon as they came over to look, she decided to run across the street, and get hit by a car! It was very traumatizing. The good thing was that she did run off after, so we are hoping that she didn't get too hurt! But that bothered me so much afterwards. I couldn't get the image or the sound out of my head. I think the kids didn't really realize what happened because as soon as I saw I moved them real quick so I don't think they really knew what happened.

I still have to say though that monkeys still freak me out! I don't know what it is about them but they are just scary little creatures. Except for the squirrel monkeys that we saw all the other ones were just freaky! Anyone else feel this way? I remember when Ross had Marcel the Monkey it used to really bother me.

There is still no new news about the adoption so we are just patiently (which if you know me, is not easy for me!) waiting for the package to come with the baby's picture and the ok to pick her up!

Todd just got the call last night from his boss from the States with the news that we are definitely moving to the Dominican Republic. Timberland has been great and is letting us do the timeline. So we will be moving there sometime between June and August, giving us time to settle with the baby before having to move. So everyone pack your beach bags and plan to come visit us in the Caribbean (since no one came to visit us here...except Mom and Dad) We plan on getting a big house so we can have plenty of visitors!

Till next time!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Back from Malaysia

We just got back from our 8 day long trip to Penang Island, Malaysia and I wanted to share it with everyone. I am going to try out blogging and see if I am better at updating this than I was at updating the yahoo group that I originally set up when we moved out here.

We had a great time, but it was not as nice as our previous trips. The hotel that we stayed at was ok, but not as nice was we were expecting. We had wanted to go scuba diving, but the only place that we found that offered it looked a bit scary, so we decided not to go since we were not confident that they a)knew what they were doing or b)the equipment were up to our standards (nothing worse than having a faulty regulator 30 meters down!)

We took a few day trips that the kids really enjoyed. We went to Orang Utan Island where they breed Orang Utans and they let them run wild on the island. It was really neat, they have a 100 meter long cage that the people are in while the Orang Utans have roam of the island. They also have nurseries for the babies, that Jillian really liked. They had cribs set up and there were two babies, diapers and all, in there while we touring. Next we went to Eco Park where we were able to feed and hold many different animals. I had Squirrel Monkeys climb on top of me trying to get the banana that I was holding. Now, normally monkeys really freak me out, but these were so small (third smallest monkeys on earth) and really cute so I was ok with them. We were the only ones in the park that day so we had our own personal guide bringing us around. There was an animal show, which being the only visitors that day, we had a private viewing. When they asked for a volunteer from the audience, Noah got to participate in the activities. Then we were all able to hold Ronnie the Amazing Parrot! We also were able to hold an iguana (which we didn't because it was really big!), guinea pigs, mice (Jillian's absolute favorite), hampsters and rabbits.

Its getting late now so I will try and post more tomorrow (and hopefully figure out how to put pictures in too), be sure to check back!